Going to an A&F store in 2021 was radically different than the last time I walked in, and I appreciated it.
I’m 26 years old, which means I was firmly in middle school at the peak of Abercrombie & Fitch mania.
Whether or not I could actually afford Abercrombie’s expensive sweaters, jeans, and moose-adorned tote bags is another story.
Walking into the store in my local mall was always scary — every employee looked like a model, it was lit like a club, the speakers were blaring music, and you could smell the store from a mile away.
I’m sure parents everywhere remember the dread of going into one of these stores — indeed, I remember my mom complaining about getting a headache as soon as she entered one, while I walked around wide-eyed at all the teenagers who looked way older and cooler than me.
Abercrombie’s name was all over the clothes and accessories, or at the very least, items had a small stitched moose.
The Abercrombie moose is perhaps the most culturally relevant moose for my generation — sorry, Bullwinkle.
But Abercrombie’s reign eventually came to an end.
The brand endured multiple controversies in the early 2000s, and teens began preferring brands like Forever 21 and Nike as both fast fashion and athleisure became trendier.
“Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely,” he told Salon.
Jeffries later apologized, saying in 2013: “While I believe this 7-year-old, resurrected quote has been taken out of context, I sincerely regret that my choice of words was interpreted in a manner that has caused offense.”
In 2012, the brand also said: “We sincerely regret and apologize for any offense caused by the comments we have made in the past which are contrary to (the values of diversity and inclusion).”